February 28, 2009

Stu Reid Under the Covers Chapter 8

Good afternoon everyone. It is an absolutely beautiful day here in Boston and unfortunately I'm stuck inside at work. Nevertheless here is a fun, though less produced cover of the Klaxons' barnstormer Golden Skans by fellow Brits the Kaiser Chiefs. The original track is also included in all of its electro, falsetto goodness. Enjoy.

Kaiser Chiefs - Golden Skans (YSI) (filesavr)
Klaxons - Golden Skans (YSI) (filesavr)

PS. What's a skan?

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Music in the Age of Obama

Last night I was flipping through the channels and came across an interesting musical program. It was the PBS broadcast of Wednesday night’s Performance at the White House in tribute to Stevie Wonder. The concert celebrated Wonder being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, and featured performances by Stevie as well as artists ranging from India.Arie to Paul Simon, all singing Wonder songs. There were some great performances (and some not-so-great), but what struck me most was the President’s engagement with and enthusiasm for the music. I was heartened to hear Obama speak eloquently about American music and its value: “This could be called the American tradition – artists demonstrating the courage and talent to find new harmonies in the rich and dissonant sounds of the American experience…This gift that music affords us, transporting us from the here and now, relieving us of our burdens, even if it’s just for the length of a song.”

Government and the arts have historically had an interesting, contentious relationship in this country, recently exemplified in the debate over whether to include funding for the National Endowment for the Arts in the stimulus bill (in the end, the bill allocated $50 million to the NEA). There have also been cries for the creation of a Secretary of the Arts, advocated by such musicians as Quincy Jones. A petition that endorses the creation of such a position has been circulating all year, and as of now has a total 237,000+ signatures. Lovers of the arts have easily been caught up in this enthusiastic quest, yet it should be noted that the last attempt by the US government to involve itself heavily in the arts was short-lived. In 1935, FDR created the Works Progress Administration, which included a Federal Music Project (FMP). The FMP funded the dissemination of jazz as well as classical music, and supported an estimated sixteen thousand musicians. But by 1938, it had come under attack from the increasingly conservative congress, and was practically eliminated by 1939 (and officially eliminated in 1943).

It is hard to know whether similar government involvement would meet with the same fate in this day and age. It would certainly be difficult for the effort to gain much traction while the government is dealing with the economic meltdown, healthcare reform, two wars, etc. And I’m not sure that the arts really need a cabinet-level position to coordinate arts education and cultural support and development. While record companies are failing, I think that music itself is thriving—more people are taking advantage of web technology to listen and discuss, and live music is becoming more popular every year. Who knows how the government’s relationship with music and the arts will progress, but for now let’s just be content that our President on occasion employs his eloquent, influential voice to speak of the power and importance of music.

Here are a few tracks that, in Obama’s words, transport me from the here and now and relieve me of my burdens, even if only for a song.

Stevie Wonder – For Once In My Life (YSI) (filesavr)
Hide Me in Thy Bosom – The Dixie Hummingbirds (YSI) (filesavr)
Mozart – Canzonetta sull’Aria from Le Nozze di Figaro (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 27, 2009

Stu Reid Under The Covers, Chapter 7

We're about to go on a slick run of Stu Reid Under The Covers editions these next few days - get psyched. I've been sitting on these covers for a while, looking for the right time to drop them in, and now seems perfect. Couple that with the fact that Zack has some super-sweet covers up his sleeve, and you had better put on your seatbelt.

Today's chapter features one bird and one bee, three covers, and a sweet original track.

The Bird and the Bee could be called Serial Coverers. These guys make some pretty stellar original jams, but they first caught my eyes with hauntingly beautiful covers of a variety of tracks that I'd like to share with you today.

The first, coincidentally the first that I was exposed to, is a cover of the BeeGee's "How Deep Is Your Love". My fondest recollections of this song come from serenading it with a group of friends in college - it's a really romantic song (although we probably didn't convey that). Lead singer Inara George (The Bee) really carries this spacey-electro track, turning a sappy sweet 70's song into a truly beautiful, minimalist tune.

The Bird and The Bee - How Deep Is Your Love (BeeGee's Cover) (YSI) (filesavr)

The second track is a little more recent, and is again a slowing-down-and-stretching-out of a bouncy tune - Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music". This cover doesn't work quite as well as "How Deep Is Your Love", but if you're a fan of the acoustic version of Umbrella, or love Inara George's voice + bells, this track is definitely for you.

The Bird and The Bee - Don't Stop The Music (Rihanna Cover) (YSI) (filesavr)

I debated between TBATB's cover of Carol Of The Bells (which really is fantastic) and an original tune, and decided that an original tune deserves some pub. This one is a fantastic track that is everything you'd expect after hearing the first two covers, except so much more. More synth, more percussion, more vocals and bells. It's off of their exceptionally titled "Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future" LP that dropped in late January, and it makes me really excited to hear more from this duo.

The Bird and The Bee - Love Letter To Japan (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 26, 2009


Its almost that magical time of year in sports when Spring Training and March Madness rejuvenate all sports fans from the winter torpor of hockey and basketball. Don't get me wrong, I love the Celtics unconditionally and enjoy watching the Bruins, but there is nothing like the limitless hope and promise of spring that accompany spring training and just the sheer volume of exciting upsets and buzzer beaters that March Madness entails. Everyone needs a little kick in the pants as the winter drags on and for sports fans at least, that jolt is almost here. Just keep hanging on and remember that anything is ppooosssiibbbllleee! Here are a few choice tracks of basketball rap, ranging from vaguely legitimate (Shaq) to arrogant (Kobe) and smooth-as-hell (JKidd). All of these tracks are pretty hilarious and listen for the Tyra Banks vocals on the Kobe track and all of Shaqs devestatingly precise rhymes. Besides getting way too many Q's in scrabble, Shaq is a hilarious (and abnormally large) human being and as to be expected Shoot Pass Slam has some absolutely hilarious lyrics.

Kobe Bryant - K.O.B.E (YSI) (filesavr)
Shaquille O'Neal - Shoot, Pass Slam (YSI) (filesavr)
Gary Payton - Livin' Legal and Large (YSI) (filesavr)
Jason Kidd - What the Kidd Did (YSI) (filesavr)


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February 25, 2009


So it seems that as Zack has started to emerge from his music rut, I've started to fall into one.  So many good songs came out at the beginning of the year that I'm having trouble switching my pace from frenzied to steady.  The prescription?  Remixes.

Remixes always add a little punch to tracks, especially when done well.  The first remix that I've been spinning recently is from Cousin Cole - a dude who has put together some pretty sweet Kanye rmxs in the past.  A couple Cole tracks have slid my way in the past few weeks - his frantic "We Don't Give A..." remix (original by Emynd and Young Chris), and his smooth remix of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire".  Being from New Jersey, I have to side with The Boss on this one.  It takes guts to remix Springsteen, but Cousin Cole pulls it off nicely without getting overly ambitious.  Definitely a good song to help get out of a rut.

Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire (Cousin Cole's Bad Desire Remix) (YSI) (filesavr)

The second RMX that's been pumping around these parts is the Tanlines remix of The Tough Alliance's "A New Chance".  The Tough Alliance were overlooked more than they should have been in 2007 when A New Chance dropped - it was a sweet album with some really bouncy rhythms.  The first few tracks from the record are as good as any openers you'll find, although the rest tapers off a bit.  This remix boils The Tough Alliance down to it's elements and really makes it work, which is good enough to get me bopping, despite my musical funk.

The Tough Alliance - A New Chance (Tanlines Remix) (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 24, 2009

The Stupot #1

With the Stupot I'm going to start throw out a few songs that are sort of similar or have some common thread that I'm listening to a lot right now (not that that's what I do on a usual day). And without further ado, here we go.

Today, partially inspired by Slumdog Millionaire's success at the Oscars, I have two tracks that feature rousing female vocals coupled with really crisp and precise rhythms. Both tracks utilize staccato pianos lines alongside an assortment of synths, handclaps and other electronic instruments to create deep and layered beats. Its pretty money whenever Amanda Blank breaks in on Extra Ball and M.I.A.'s voice just works perfectly with what those evil masterminds over at DFA concocted for their Paper Planes remix. I still cannot get over how perfectly Paper Planes fit into Slumdog Millionaire with the whole train riding montage (those kids are so cute). A.R. Rahman deserves every word of praise for such an excellent and eye-opening score (GO PURCHASE IT).

Yuksek - Extra Ball (YSI) (filesavr)
M.I.A. - Paper Planes (DFA Remix) (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 23, 2009

And the Oscar goes to....

Well the Oscars were last night, and for the first time in a while I tuned in for the whole shebang.

Highlights: Penelope Cruz's speech, the Milk screenwriter's speech, Beyonce tearing it up, Bill Maher's rubber suit, Phillipe Petit balancing the Oscar on his chin, Will Smith saying "Boom Goes The Dynamite", the John Legend v. AR Rahman song-battle, etc. etc. etc.

I was 7/8 in the 8 major categories, I'm pretty psyched about that.  Would have been perfect except for a last minute switch from Penn to Rourke.  Damn.

Even though it was more of a movie night, let's get some tunes up in here. A couple tracks in honor of those sweet little gold men - the first from Stars (get it, like film stars?) and the second, Solid Gold, by The Golden Filter. Pretty awesome tracks that seemed somewhat topical.

The opening line of this Stars track is one of the coolest openings around. It would be awesome to open up a huge hip-hop track, but it's pretty cool here too. Apparently the quote is from lead singer Torquil Campbell's dad, who must have been a total badass.

The Golden Filter is an unsigned band out of NYC, and they're pretty sweet. You may know them from their great remix of Peter Bjorn and John's "Lay It Down", which is definitely worth a listen. I grabbed this track from the SXSW page, which is chock full of great tunes worth hearing.

Boom goes the dynamite!

Stars - Your Ex-Lover is Dead (YSI) (filesavr)

The Golden Filter - Solid Gold (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 21, 2009

K'naamean? Mos Definitely.

Ever have that thing where you listen to a song the first time and are underwhelmed, only to have that song completely dominate your mind and become one of your favorites over the course of two days?  Rarely has that happened more quickly and thoroughly than with the newest K'naan cut to cross my path, "America".  

K'naan's The Dusty Foot Philosopher is a fantastic album that only suffers from similarity - it's a lot of K'naan to listen to all the way through.  

On "America", from his upcoming Troubadour, K'naan enlists the help of Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli) and Mos Def (Blackstar, Be Kind Rewind) to produce one funky-relaxed-biting-smooth-jazzy-worldmusicy piece o' work.  It's a fantastic pairing that works without trying.  It's like the vibe that Eminem was trying for on "Relapse", except legitimate and authentic.  Great raps, great vibe.  And the beat is just so damn smooth.  

I understand about 13% of the words in this song, and I love 100% of it.

Side note, Mos Def seems like the coolest dude in the world.  I'm a little hesitant to say that (see: SWPL) but it's true.  He's funny, smart, musical, a good actor, and friends with Talib Kweli - what more could you want?  Anyway, enjoy this K'naan track and a little new Mos Def - "Quiet Dog" is the second single off of Mos Def's new album Ecstatic, coming our way in June or so.

K'naan f. Mos Def and Chali 2na - America (YSI) (filesavr)

Mos Def - Quiet Dog (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 20, 2009

The love that loves the love that loves the love...

This week, I’d like to get a little bit meta and write about music writing. In this age of blogs, there is no shortage of music writing and criticism out there for consumption. But what makes music writing good? Or is writing about music even worthwhile? Elvis Costello once famously compared writing about music to “dancing about architecture,” concluding that it is “a very stupid thing to want to do.” A clever turn of phrase, Mr. Costello, but I beg to differ. I believe that expressive, passionate writing about a song or piece or album has the potential to truly transform a listener’s perspective. Admittedly, a lot of music writing fails to achieve this. Reviews often, in striving for objectivity, achieve a dry, almost meaningless result. And less objective writing is often rendered trivial by excessive use of shallow personal impressions. The line between these two extremes is certainly a difficult one to walk.

One man who walked it successfully was Lester Bangs (you may remember the name from Almost Famous). Bangs is widely recognized as among the greatest rock n’ roll writers of all time, and I highly recommend picking up Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, a collection of Lester’s writings first published in 1987. The first review in this collection is a 1979 essay on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, and it really opened my eyes to this terrific album. I had purchased the album years before, and had never really liked it. I had been bothered by the nonsensical lyrics, particularly Van’s incessant repetition of two- or three-word phrases. For example, from the song “Madame George”: "And the love that loves the love that loves the love that loves the love that loves to love the love that loves to love the love that loves.” What on earth is he babbling on about? Yet after reading a few paragraphs from Bangs’s column, I approached such lyrics with a new perspective. Bangs writes:

Van Morrison is interested, obsessed with how much musical or verbal information he can compress into a small space, and, almost conversely, how far he can spread one note, word, sound, or picture. To capture one moment, be it a caress or a twitch. He repeats certain phrases to extremes that from anybody else would seem ridiculous, because he's waiting for a vision to unfold, trying as unobtrusively as possible to nudge it along…It’s the great search, fueled by the belief that through these musical and mental processes illumination is attainable. Or may at least be glimpsed.
Now, one might write this pseudo-mystical explanation off as nonsense itself. Yet what strikes me as so effective about Bangs's writing here is how it fits the music—its mood, its rhythm, its essence—perfectly. It is difficult to evaluate this claim without hearing any of the songs from Astral Weeks, so below are a couple of tracks, as well as a link to the text of the Lester Bangs essay.

Track 1: Astral Weeks (filesavr)

This title track is probably my favorite cut of the album, and before I sign off I'd like to point out a moment in this song that I particularly enjoy: the transition from chorus to verse. The lyrics of the chorus are as follows:
Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again

As the chorus begins, buzzing, trembling strings are added to the texture, creating a sense of tension and restlessness. As Van reaches the chorus's final line, the strings are removed, releasing the tension and leaving behind a sense of peaceful arrival that wonderfully fits the lyrics of rebirth.

Track 6: Madame George (filesavr)

Lester Bangs Column

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Stu Reid gets Silly

Stu Reid the man was known to get quite silly on occasion, but now is not the time nor place to discuss those stories. You might remember that while driving back from Maine this past weekend, I was listening to a bunch of old mix CDs. One of those CDs was from sophomore summer up at Dartmouth when you are required to take classes. I had just finished this terrifying biology class and put together this CD to celebrate. On it were the likes of Toxic (one of my all time favorites), Madonna, EMF, Ram Jam, Peanut Butter Jelly Time and a bunch of other wacky tracks mixed in with some rap. A hidden gem from the CD was the completely absurd song Boogie in your Butt by Eddie Murphy. Needless to say devoted fan x was not amused as much as I was by the song. Here are a few tracks from that fun jaunt down memory lane and while fun, it still has not cured my music rut.

Britney Spears - Toxic (YSI) (filesavr)
EMF - Unbelievable (YSI) (filesavr)
Eddie Murphy - Boogie in your Butt (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 19, 2009

In a Rut

So I am officially in a music rut. I hate how they sneak up on you and then out of nowhere *wham* you have nothing new and nothing appeals to your ears. These are frustrating times for my ears right now. In an effort to cure my aural malaise I listened to a bunch of old mix cds while driving up to Maine to ski this past weekend. In addition to belting out some Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado and Kelly Clarkson I was reminded of myriad bands that I had simply forgotten about. I loved hearing Clap your Hands Say Yeah and the Rapture again, but my biggest rediscovery was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. What a coincidence that I came across what had been one of my favorite bands right when they are gearing up to release a new album (Its Blitz is slated to be released on April 13, 2009). Pretty good timing huh? Every song has a ferocious, desperate energy and thundering yet precice instrumentation that together rip open your chest cavity and make your heart beat faster. While not entirely curing my music rut, Karen O, Brian Chase and Nick Zinner are definitely helping out (assuaging my rut if you will). More on my mix CD odyssey coming soon.

Three golden oldies (Too many great tracks to choose from):
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Y Control (YSI) (filesavr)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Phenomena (YSI) (filesavr)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - The Sweets (YSI) (filesavr)

The newbie:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 18, 2009

Go South By South West, Young Man

So, as has been reported by everyone and their mother, SXSW has announced their lineup and their schedule.  There are an unbelievable mumber of really great artists performing in a four day period, making even the most casual of indie music fans drool with anticipation.  Despite whatever SXSW qualms you might have, it remains the best place in the world to see great upcoming stars in informal and fun settings.

You can read up on the full SXSW lineup here, but I thought I'd highlight some of my favorites of the artists performing down in that southern festival of the music industry.  

First up we have the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old fashioned carolina jug band that features fiddle, banjo, guitar, and actual jug.  These guys are amazing in concert and on record, and worth a spin if you like bluegrass in any form at all.  

Carolina Chocolate Drops - Cornbread and Butterbeans (YSI) (filesavr)

Next we have Sage Francis, possibly the most impressive (white) rapper I've ever heard.  His origins as a slam poet are evident throughout his tracks, and he never ceases to impress me with his lyricism.  Get into his debut, Personal Journalist, if you want to get your brain rocled.

Sage Francis - Conspiracy to Riot (YSI) (filesavr)

A third artist worth a minute is the humorously named Yak Ballz.  We saw him open up for Aesop Rock a few months ago, and his beats hit hard.  Tough to get past his name, but the tracks speak for themselves and show a lot of promise.

Yak Ballz - Dirt Empire (YSI) (filesavr)

Finally, a band by the name of John Wesley Harding and Eugene Mirman's Cabinet of Wonders is worth a listen.  Eugene Mirman is a comic who has been seen on shows like Flight of the Conchords, Premium Blend, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.  More than that, though, he's a pretty good musician, and he shows his chops here.  Definitely check out this song, and read this hilarious AV Club interview here if you have a couple minutes/a sense of humor.  Awesome all around.

John Wesley Harding and Eugene Mirman's Cabinet of Wonders - Oh! Pandora (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 17, 2009

At the Top of My Lungs

I just drove back from Philly back up to Boston after a great visit home to see some friends and family. Didn't get to catch a show at the First Unitarian, unfortunately, but I did see the Mutter Museum of Medical Oddities, which is gross and awesome. Woot.

The car ride home was standard fare - me belting out tunes at the top of my lungs out of tune until I got a sore throat. I sang everything from old school Dispatch to Celtic standards to James Taylor, and had a blast while doing it. Something awesome about singing in the car alone.

The main offender that kicked off this singing spree is a track from Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, off of the Dark Was the Night compilation that was released today. It takes Wild Mountain Thyme - a traditional Irish song about going somewhere with a lass, building a bower, and then finding a replacement lass - and puts new lyrics over the familiar tune. It's really an exceptional song.

Stuart Murdoch - Another Saturday (YSI) (filesavr)

I also found myself shouting along with Tunde Adebimpe's brilliant cover of Neil Young's "Unknown Legend" from the Rachel Getting Married soundtrack. It's an a cappella take that was apparently recorded in Tunde's trailer on set, and it's beautiful, haunting, heartwrenching. I love this track.

Tunde Adebimpe - Unknown Legend (Neil Young Cover) (YSI) (filesavr)

Finally, another track from the Dark Was the Night compilation that dropped yesterday. The Books are really good at making calm electro music, and Jose Gonzalez is really good at singing. They let their powers combine like Captain Planet, and completely dominate this track. Buy the full record here to fight AIDS and support the Red Hot Organization.

The Books and Jose Gonzalez - Cello Song (YSI)

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February 16, 2009

Birthday Bash!

Happy birthday Lincoln, Washington, Lincoln and all those other historically important figures! In honor of these great people who have shaped our modern world I give you an eclectic President's Day grab bag of random new music that I like. Check them out, sit back, relax, recharge and enjoy the rare three day weekend that encompasses not one, but two holidays. I am off skiing and I hope you're having a great weekend as well. Also, that Raekwon track is pretty money for a lethargic day.

Gui Boratto - Take My Breath Away (YSI) (filesavr)
Body Language - Huffy Ten Speed (YSI) (filesavr)
Raekwon ft. Ghostface Killah - Wu Ooh (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 14, 2009

Be My Hero?

Valentine's Day is for lovers. Devoted fan X and I have a very unique relationship. I get to be as weird as a want and she usually puts up with it. So today I'm going to say thanks and show my reverence. !!! are an incredibly fun group with their crazy instruments and vocalists and they put on one of the best live shows that I have even seen. At Lollapalooza this past summer with devoted fan x, !!! just tore the house down on a sweaty summer evening. So here are a couple of great !!! jams to propel you through today and hopefully help you cut loose a bit. I just love the title all my heroes are weirdos, because it is so very true. Have a great V Day.

!!! - All My Heroes are Weirdos (YSI) (filesavr)
!!! - Heart of Hearts (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 13, 2009

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

Some changes are on the way here at TSRE, including some fly new graphics, a transition to WordPress, and some other goodies.  One of said "Goodies" is a new contributing writer, who will be dropping knowledgable tidbits on a weekly basis.  This man knows more about music than most and was wearing plaid before it was in style.  Word to your moms, without further ado I give you Ben, the artist formerly known as Nomo.

Kick It!

As a way of introduction, I'd like to reflect back on the music that provided the soundtrack to my middle school years. While songs like "Truly Madly Deeply" and "The Boy Is Mine" dominated the pop airwaves, I was busy developing a pseudo-worshipful relationship with a certain all-white rap trio from NYC: the Beastie Boys. I still remember the first time I heard the simple yet sublime rhymes of Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D on "Intergalactic", in a summer camp cabin in New Hampshire. I quickly learned all the lyrics, and the Beasties quickly became my idols.  I doggedly chased down all of their albums, from their classic debut Licensed to Ill ("Brass Monkey", "Fight For Your Right") to Hello Nasty("Intergalactic", "Body Movin'"), and everything in between. 

I dutifully learned the lyrics to every hit, and would rap along whenever one came on the radio.  The Beastie Boys gave me an ill-founded hope that an awkward 13-year old at an all-boys school like myself might someday bloom into something a little more badass.

Sadly, I can't bear to listen to the Beasties anymore. I cringe every time I hear the whiny, high-pitched voices, and the posse-style rhyming where all three yell the last word of every line ("Coming from Uranus to check my STYLE!!!!"). But my years of Beastie-worship were not without value. For one thing, I bonded with my first girlfriend over the Beasties (we "dated" for about two weeks). And, more importantly, the BBoys introduced me to A Tribe Called Quest by featuring Q-Tip as a guest rapper on "Get it Together," from their 1994 album Ill Communication. I remember listening and realizing that, by golly, this Q-Tip character has more flow than Ad-Rock, MCA, and Mike D combined! And thus began a love for the Tribe that continues to this day—a topic for another week.

Here are a couple Beastie Boys tracks that I can still bear to listen to, as well as a track from the Tribe. "Shadrach" is a funky, dance-y track off of the Beasties' most critically acclaimed album, Paul's Boutique (1989). Then there's "Get it Together", which I mentioned above, and, from the Tribe, "Check the Rhime," a jazzy track that demonstrates the characteristically playful rapport between rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dawg.

 - Ben

Beastie Boys - Shadrach (YSI) (filesavr)

Beastie Boys - Get it Together (YSI) (filesavr)

A Tribe Called Quest - Check the Rhime (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 12, 2009

Sick of the City

On paper this week should be awesome for me: skiing this weekend, an early valentines day dinner, trivia with friends, buying vacation tickets, but for some reason I have just been feeling sort of down. I cannot put my finger on it, but there is a specter of something that I am not able to shake lately. Work and everything else seems to be moving a little too fast. The beautiful weather today in Boston really reminded me that I am growing tired of the city. Its not the people, culture or activities, but just something about being surrounded by concrete all the time is wearing on me. Maybe its not the city and just my quotidian routine, but something is getting to me. I purchased the Two Short Stories by the midwest folk outfit Jayber Crow earlier in 2008 and I listened to it over and over again among the hills of New Hampshire. Luckily, thanks to their excellent music video for Freeze and Thaw, I have started listening to Two Short Stories again recently and it has been a welcome relief. The music video is well done and very crafty (I cannot fathom how much paper cutting was accomplished) and the song Freeze and Thaw is a hopeful, uplifting slice of woodsy folk. Just what I need. O God When I Drop Dead is another frenetic folk jam from Jayber Crow that just romps all over you for a solid 2 minutes (handclaps too!).

Jayber Crow - O God When I Drop Dead (YSI) (filesavr)

Also, you may have noticed the name change from The Truth to my new moniker Zack. We are undergoing some major changes at TSRE, so keep a lookout for a major redesign and even new features in the next couple of days!!! Booyah.

Here's another lo-fi jam for driving in cars through the country

Harlem - South of France (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 11, 2009

Ooh! Stings, Don't It?

Recently got my hands on the new Charles "Jeezy" Hamilton track, Scorpion.  It's the first track from his upcoming "Well Isn't This Awkward" mixtape.  Story of my life.

Except I get the feeling that nothing Charles Hamilton has ever been involved in is awkward.  He has this can't-touch-me flow that tells you he's cool without making him seem too cool.  Hamilton's flow is the bridge between the kids smoking pot behind the school and the dorks playing tetris on their graphing calculators.  

On first listen, Scorpion wasn't hitting me the way I'd like.  But after a couple listens, the familiar CH reveals himself - smooth, confident (nay, cocky), and poised to do great things.  Scorpion doesn't best my favorite Hamilton track, which is without a doubt Brooklyn Girls, but it does get me pumped to hear a whole disc of jams.

Charles Hamilton - Scorpion (YSI) (filesavr)

Charles Hamilton - Brooklyn Girls (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 10, 2009


1992. What a year. I was 6 years old and I remember absolutely nothing. I do remember that I cried in the lunchroom the first time that I had to stay for lunch in first grade. Besides my personal woes 92 was an interesting year. Clinton was elected as US president, George H. W. Bush vomited in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister, EuroDisney opened, the Blue Jays won the World Series for the first time, the Bosnian conflict began, Pope John Paul II apologizes for the inquisition against Galileo and Dr. Dre released The Chronic.

So yeah lets all take a deep breath and remember 1992....

And scene. Here are a couple of beat heavy songs that reference 1992. Zomby is just some straight up quality dancehall techno. A short and sweet track that ends before it gets too repetitive thankfully. We definitely don't put enough of that up here and I'm sure you've heard XR2 from M.I.A. The blaring horns just make such a dirty beat. It will make you move I dare say.

Zomby - Where Were U in '92 (YSI) (filesavr)
M.I.A. - XR2 (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 9, 2009

By Hook Or By Crookers

I'm constantly surprised by this blog game, and how tracks will just take off over the internet and grow a quick following.  Nowhere does this surprise me more than in the remix world, where it often seems that timing is as important as anything in getting plays for your track.

I got passed a fantastic refix of Crookers' new banger "What Up Y'all" by FNGRLCKN, and I just can't get enough.  Like a lot of my favorite remixes, it's a subtle one (is that what a refix is?  I don't know words that aren't in Urban Dictionary) and it really brings out the hot parts of the original.  Doesn't overly hack up Crookers version, choosing instead to reorder it a little, insert some underlying rhythm patterns, and make it a little more vocal.  I dig it, in a major way.

So I was surprised to catch the Dirty Disco Youth Remix all over the web, with the FNGRLCKN refix nowhere to be found.  The Dirty Disco Youth Remix is good, don't get me wrong, and it's definitely more of a departure from the original, but I think this version deserves a little more love than it has gotten.

So check it out.

Crookers - What Up Y'all (FNGRLCKN Refix) (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 8, 2009

Sticky Laughter

We are embarking on a journey here at TSRE. New logos, t shirts and a (hopefully) new page design will all be happening soon. We have been hard at work sketching and photoshopping some great stuff. Another new experience for us is that bands have begun sending us music, which at first is a bit daunting. Such as, wow thanks so much, but now you want me to write something insightful about your artwork? I have to admit that at first I felt a little anxious about this entire process, so bear with me this first time, if you will. Hopefully as we get more music from whomever is out there reading and creating we will get better at this. We truly appreciate everything.

Butterfly Bones hail from the Bay Area and based on their myspace that I perused earlier, seem to embody many aspects of that hip yet facetious Bay Area persona that I have built up in my East Coast head. The guys from Butterfly Bones were kind enough to send me their EP Sticky Laughter along with a pretty cool poster (thanks!). After one listen I saw a little Black Moth Super Rainbow in their sonic experimentation, but there is more there, specifically so much more live instrumentation. On the opening track, Geneva in Morning Sun, Butterfly Bones interweave delicate notes with layers of lazy guitars to create a swirling atmosphere of sound. Without vocals you can just sit back and let the track wash over you and remember your own triumphant mornings from the past. Another early comparison I drew was to Deerhunter with their layers of guitar and melodic and sometimes tonal vocals. While I was not as drawn to the second track, Candywine Kissing Lips, I loved the sensation of the soaring vocals tones and hazy guitars towards the end of the third track The Ecchoing Aquatic. For me, vocals are simply another layer in the sound and here vocals do just that. Also, that title is a reference to a William Blake poem, its a good one too, nice. Vocals come back to the forefront on the final track, Juju Spider Boxing, which shows the band experimenting a little more with some funkier rhythms to good effect. Despite some repetition and dragging, Sticky Laughter is all in all an enjoyable EP where I was able to lose myself, for better or for worse. Butterfly Bones have some good ideas here and they formulate appealing hazy layers of sound if you are into that kind of music. I enjoyed it. Thanks.

Butterfly Bones - Geneva in Morning Sun (YSI) (filesavr)
Butterfly Bones - The Ecchoing Aquatic (YSI) (filesavr)

BONUS. A pretty cool, but kinda dirty Deerhunter mashup from the Hood Internet who never fail to disappoint.

The Hood Internet - Deer Assault (DJ Assault vs Deerhunter) (YSI) (filesavr)

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Passion Pit Tikka Masala

Last night was a good night.  It started with Indian food - Lamb Korma, Chicken Tikka Masala, and some big Taj Mahals.  It ended with Passion Pit rocking our brains at the Middle East in Boston, playing a succinct but power-packed 40 minute set that left us sweaty and buzzing.  Well, at least I was sweaty - that's just how I roll.

Openers Paper Route were hilariously decent - very angsty indie rock about breaking hearts and never stopping loving you.  Not the best openers I've ever seen, but as I remarked to someone at the show, they got me psyched up for a better version of their steez - Passion Pit.

Passion Pit, as usual, delivered.  It was our 4th time seeing them, and probably their smoothest set - opening with the funky I've Got Your Number, building to a frenzy, and closing with Sleepyhead -> Smile Upon Me.  Michael Angelakos came out for a solo encore that was the post-coital cigarette to the lovefest that was the concert, and we left in time to grab the last T home.  Does it get better than that?  I proffer that it does not.

New LP from the Cambridge boys in May, get excited.  They even enlist the help of a New York City Public School Choir on a few tracks, which is about the dopest thing ever.

For your digestion:  One of the more overlooked Sleepyhead remixes, a nice change of pace from the bangers.  This one was one of the first to pop up, and comes from Brooklyn's Landau Orchestra, home of the producer of Passion Pit's upcoming LP.  It's a smoother, slower take on a hyped up jam, but it really delivers well.

Also, for kicks, here's a song from openers, Paper Route, as well as one of the more recent Hood Internet mashes from ABX, featuring Animal Collective and Paper Route Gangstaz (No relation).

Passion Pit - Sleepyhead (Landau Wake Up Remix) (YSI) (filesavr)

Paper Route - Are We All Forgotten (YSI) (filesavr)

ABX - Animals Collecting Money (Paper Route Gangstaz vs. Animal Collective) (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 6, 2009

Kast Off My Love

Time for an Outkast themed post that has been brewing for quite some time.

It all started about 4 months ago, when Rem posted up SMKA's The 808 Experiment Volume 1, a movement of Atlanta based hip hop artists dropping some fly tracks on hot beats.  The opening track, misleadingly titled "The Instrumental Introduction" features a slowly developing synthy pad with the lyrics "Now every day we looked up at the ceiling, watching ceiling fans go round, trying to catch that feelin' off instrumentals" over and over as the beat grows.  Strangely hype, strangely addictive.  It's a sample taken from Outkast's "Elevators (Me & You)" off the hypetastic ATLiens, and it set off a fire of awesome for Andre and Big Boi that hadn't been tapped into in a couple years.

SMKA - The Instrumental Intro (YSI) (filesavr)


It kicked into high gear when, around Christmas, I took a long drive with a couple friends and only had a few CDs to listen to on the trip.  Stankonia was in high rotation, and my thirst for funky hip hop was quenched by "Gasoline Dreams", one of the rawest Outkast tracks around.  I cannot get enough of this song, no matter what I'm doing.  If I listened to this song while running, I would run a 3:30 mile.  Maybe.  

Outkast - Gasoline Dreams (YSI) (filesavr)

It cumulated in the last couple days, as my thoughts turned to that February holiday, and I recalled my favorite song related to Valentine's Day (with the possible exception of Sam Cooke's "Cupid").  "Happy Valentines Day" from The Love Below is one of the funkiest tracks around, and it - and I know I sound like a broken record here, but bear with me - uses hand claps to their fullest extent, letting las manos anchor the beat throughout the track.  Wow this is a hot track.

Outkast - Happy Valentine's Day (YSI) (filesavr)
Also, for kicks, here's the latest from Big Boi, that oft overlooked other outkast.  It's the lead single off of Sir Luscious Leftfoot, and is pretty decent.  Not my favorite, and definitely a little too polished for my tastes, but Big Boi's rhymes are pretty tight.  Pros:  He brings back the term "sha'mon" from the Michael Jackson days.  Cons:  Autotune in the background.  You're better than that, Big Boi.

Big Boi - Ringtone (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 5, 2009

Diva Pwr

I guess we are sort of on a girly kick here at TSRE and I am totally on the bandwagon. I grabbed this track by La Roux from Neon Gold and its got some pretty money 80s nostalgia going on. La Roux has a powerful female voice that just rides the crap out of the heavy 80s synths in the background. Not only strident and confident, La Roux's voice is modern and hopeful all in one. I assure you that Fascination will become your next power jam guaranteed.

Next up is the absolutely ballin MSTRKRFT remix of Metric's Monster Hospital from a couple of years ago. With MSTRKRFT's patented pounding synths backing up Emily Hanes's earnest melodies this song is a classic. Hanes's voice swirls, twisting around the ferocious synths to create something dark and powerful. The lyrics are so desperate and forceful that they fit perfectly with the pulsating synths that reinforce the tone of the lyrics. This is one of my all time favorite remixes and a great get hype song to boot. Enjoy.

La Roux - Fascination (YSI) (filesavr)
Metrix - Monster Hospital (MSTRKRFT Remix) (YSI) (filesavr)

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Great Weekend

This past weekend, the Judge, devoted fan x, a bunch of friends and I went skiing up in Maine. Despite not having skied in a few years it was an amazing time. The weather was absolutely perfect and the snow was easy to ski on. It really is so nice to get out of the city for a few days, disconnect from technology and just spend time with friends. So necessary. Also, the Super Bowl was pretty fun to watch too. Upon arriving back in civilization I was overjoyed to find a new song from the Junior Boys floated around the information superhighway. I personally adore the Junior Boys. I saw them live in London once and they whipped out some instruments to replace their electronic array. The way they combine intimate half-whispers with pulsating 8-bit electro beats ranging from the club to the headphones is addictive. While not as perfect as In the Morning, the new track Parallel Lines has some great texture and is simply a well constructed pop song. Begone Dull Care, the third album from the Junior Boys is scheduled for release in April. I cannot wait.

Junior Boys - Parallel Lines (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 4, 2009

Breaking Your Handclaps

I've never been ashamed to admit it - I love handclaps.  We have an entire tag on this here site devoted to handclaps, and I frequently extoll their virtues.

Additionally, I've previously expressed my delightful delight in Pocketknife and Cousin Cole's work on various tracks, remixing good tunes to make them even better.

So you can imagine my level of pizazz upon being given this Pocketknife Remix of a Lykke Li track, Breaking It Up.  Now, I've never been a huge Lykke Li fan - I didn't buy into the original hype, and although I've enjoyed a few of her tracks, they haven't really captivated me the way I always want music to grab me.  So I was psyched to hear this cut - a Lykke Li track with some infected pump that makes it more of a bopper.  I like what Pocketknife kept, and I like what he ditched - another example of great Remix Treatment.

Lykke Li - Breaking It Up (Pocketknife Loosefoot Remix) (YSI) (filesavr)

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February 2, 2009


The Chondola is the name of the new 6 person chairlift and gondola line at Sunday River. What a vaguely odd and suggestive name, huh? I just got back from a fun weekend skiing so I apologize for the late post today. We'll be back to regular posting tomorrow.

On our drive up to Maine on Friday, devoted fan X and I listened to the latest album from The Phantom Band, Checkmate Savage, numerous times and it did not disappoint. After finding it highly recommended on Cokemachineglow, I knew that it would be worth at least one listen, but what I found was a an album of complete immersion. From the Scottish accents to the body-shaking bass rhythms to the agile guitars, The Phantom Band is the real deal. If you are in a bad mood they will snap you out of it. If you want an album to contemplate, Checkmate Savage will make you think. If you just want to plain rock out to some sick bass lines, you got it right here. Checkmate Savage is the best epic rock album I have heard in a while, but with enough tricks and subtle weirdness to make it truly engrossing. Enjoy the music and the great weather today.

The Phantom Band - The Howling (YSI) (filesavr)
The Phantom Band - Throwing Bones (YSI) (filesavr)

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